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The next release of Windows will be able to run on chips usually found in mobile phones.
A desktop version of Windows 7 was shown working with three processors built around designs from UK firm Arm.
The demonstration is significant because before now Windows was closely connected with Intel-designed chips.
The announcement formed part of a keynote speech by Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer that opened the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
In his speech, Mr Ballmer said the "next version" of Windows, likely to be Windows 8, would support what he called "systems on a chip" (SOC).